Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ *
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please get in touch with the organisers.
Songs and voice parts
I'm a chorus singer, and just started singing in my first quartet, and I'm really enjoying it. Can I come to the Brigade?
If you're only getting started, the Harmony Brigade is probably not the place for you. As a general rule, Harmony Brigades are targeted at singers with a strong quartet experience. This is because when you get thrown together with three other people you've never sung with, it is much harder to get the song going and ring all the chords than if you're in a chorus or even a quartet with people you're familiar with. A Harmony Brigade is fun for everyone if everyone knows what they're doing in a quartet. For beginning quartetters, there are better opportunities to take your first steps, such as Harmony College; and then we'll welcome you to the Brigade in a couple of years!
I understand the UK Harmony Brigade is a mixed brigade. Will we be singing male or female arrangements?
UKHB uses MALE arrangements. This has the benefit of using arrangements selected and modified by the overall Brigade organisation. By experience, we know that women can almost always handle the tenor part, and women with a relatively low range have sung lead and bari successfully. We have endeavoured to select arrangements that have few exceptionally low bari and lead notes.
I'm not sure I can sing lead on a male arrangement. What are the ranges of the songs?
Here are the typical ranges of the songs, in scientific notation:
Tenor: A3 to C5
Lead: F3 to G4
Baritone: D3 to F4
Bass: F2 to B3
"Typical range" means that there are occasional notes that are slightly outside of these ranges. These notes are usually sung in unison with other parts, or are single outliers. If you are still unsure about what parts you could sing, feel free to contact us, and we can put you in touch with women who have participated in past Extreme Quartet events. Do note that the range alone does not give you the full picture of how comfortable the song is to sing for you. For instance, the baritone parts may spend more time at the lower end of the range than the lead parts, although the ranges are similar. Female baritones might consider learning the male tenor part unless they have a low range.
I am a female bass, how can I participate?
If you are a female bass, you will need to chose another part to sing. We suggest you look at the lead or bari parts of the songs.
What songs will be sung at the next Brigade?
It is the policy of the Association of Extreme Quartetting Harmony Brigades NOT to make the song lists public. This question has been debated since the start of the Harmony Brigades (over 25 years ago), and it remains one of the "extreme" elements of what we do that you will only learn of the song selection once you have registered. The international music committee works in secret nearly two years in advance, and tries to select an excellent mix of songs, including a good number of arrangements in the 'as sung by' version of recent top quartets. Part of the fun and joy is the anticipation of what those songs will be at each brigade.
I am in complete disagreement and I MUST know the songs before I decide whether to participate
The organisers can, at their discretion, disclose the song list to individuals at registration time, providing you agree not to share the information in any public forum. Contact us!
You keep going on and on about preparedness. Is it really such a big deal if I don't know a couple of notes?
Yes, it's a really big deal. Coming unprepared is not an option. The core point of a Harmony Brigade is that you can grab any three other people and sing a song with them, and that singing with them will be fun. If you have to think about your notes and words when you're practicing with a TimTrack, your confusion will be much worse when you're singing with three other living people. These three people will have worked hard to have all their words, music, and interpretation down 100%. So please do your part to make sure they have fun singing with you. So, you practice until you get it right, then you continue to practice until you CAN'T GET IT WRONG!
What if I am not sure I can learn all the songs?
You will have about four months to learn the songs, some of which you may already know. If you can get a few other people together, you can practice them at a run-through before coming to the Brigade. You may also contact the organisational team, or your local ambassador for advice. Please apply only if you are confident that you can come fully prepared.
Will there be teach tracks?
Yes! There will be high quality teach tracks by Tim Waurick or other professional singers for each song.
When will I get the songs and teach tracks?
We will distribute the teach tracks and sheet music electronically to paid up subscribers as soon as we have copyright approval. This should give you four months or more to learn the songs.
Applications and payment
I read that I can't just sign up, but have to apply. What does that mean?
There are a number of reasons why the organising team has to make a selection from the people who apply to participate in the Brigade. One is that we want to ensure that everyone who comes is a reasonably experienced quartetter, for reasons explained above. A second reason is that we need equal numbers of tenors, leads, baris, and basses at the event (you want to spend your time singing, not hunting for leads), and we probably want to balance things out by gender and country a bit. The organising team will review all applications as they are received, and if you have not previously sung in extreme quartets, we will likely contact your musical referees, and will let you know as soon as possible if you can participate.
Okay, I'm sold! Now what does it cost to participate?
The standard fee for 2019 will be £ 270. This includes:
Accommodation in a twin-bedded room for two nights (you will be assigned a roommate unless you have specified one at registration). A single room or sharing a room with a non-singing guest are available as upgrade options.
Sheet music and learning tracks for the songs
Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday
Dinner on Friday and Saturday
Rent for the hotel conference rooms in which we're singing
You will have options of a single room supplement, extra nights, a donation to our scholarship fund. Once your application is submitted, we will bill you for the amount due, and once you have paid, your registration is confirmed. Once this happens, a partial refund is possible if you cancel your registration on or before 15 November. Our cancellation policy and Terms and Conditions apply. If you have opted for a shared room with a specific person, we will contact you in November to obtain the particulars. If you want to bring a non-participating partner/guest, you can contact us by email to arrange any room requirements.
Can I bring family members to the Brigade?
Yes! The hotel will extend our group rate to extra persons and extra nights that you can book. Generally the free quartetting and rehearsal times are not at all of interest to non-singing visitors, but the quartet competition and particularily the Saturday night show are open to the public (be sure to book tickets in advance). Nottingham and surrounding areas offer plenty of things to see - see atttached link:
It's November, and I'm noticing that I won't be able to learn all the music in time. What can I do?
First, consider to make a push and finish learning your music anyway. Just think of all the fun you'll be missing out on! :) But if you're sure that you won't be able to come 100% prepared, it is much better to withdraw than to come unprepared; after all, there may be other singers in a waiting list for your voice part who will jump at the chance to come.
I live near Nottingham / have a friend near Nottingham I can stay with / really like youth hostels. Is there a way I could not pay for the hotel room?
The Brigade is a community of barbershoppers geting together to do a lot of singing. If you're not staying in the same hotel as everyone else, chances are that you're coming late on Saturday morning or you're leaving early on Saturday night. It is important to us to keep the community together as much as possible. That's why we're encourage everyone to stay in the hotel on the site, even if you have other options. Also, we have guaranteed a minimum number of rooms to the hotel in order to get the use of the full facilities, so we need to have nearly everyone staying at the hotel.
All that said, yes, if you have no other options than to sleep elsewhere, we can probably make an exception for you. Contact us.
Will there be coaching?
No, there will be no coaching, no sectional practice (apart from sing-throughs you have organised yourselves), and no time for last minute learning! There will be nothing that distracts from quartetting with as many people as you can. :-) That said, there is a lot to be learned from quartetting with really good singers, so the Brigade is definitely a learning opportunity!
I disagree with some of the decisions you've made in organising UKHB , and I have suggestions for making the next event even better.
There will be a brigade meeting where any current problems can be raised. There will be a questionnaire at the end where we request your feedback and suggestions for future events. If anything else is urgent, feel free to contact the organisers (you can use our contact page, or email one of us directly if you have the email addresses.
* thanks to Alexander Koller and the European Harmony Brigade for permission to reproduce portions of their text used here.